Friday, April 1 2022

spring break, the mall, and remembering some pranks

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. Did you think we would make it this far? It's been a long week, and it feels good to finally turn the page.

It's just me this morning, but Miles and Rodney are beginning to wake up. Marissa is still sleeping, and since this is her last day to enjoy spring break hours, we had better keep it that way. Starting next Monday, we go back to the regular grind of waking up early together and carting Rodney to school and back.

Rodney doesn't even realize it, but he really got screwed over with the weather this week. It snowed yesterday. While eating dinner, we tried to put our heads together and make a last minute plan to redeem some of the fun. "What do you want to do?" we asked.

Rodney eyes widened. He loves it when he gets the speaking floor at the dinner table. "I want... to take turns playing video games."

I think he's referring to last week, when I brought the xbox into the living room. While Miles tottled around the room, Rodney, Marissa, and I passed around the xbox controller, taking turns trying to beat the same Spider-Man level. Very doable.

Even though Rodney is pretty easy to please, Marissa and I had other plans beyond just playing video games. It's starting to look like the whole family will accompany Marissa at her agility trial this weekend. The trial takes place in Huntley, which is only a thirty minute drive from Schaumburg. While Marissa waits, Rodney, Miles, and I can jump in the car to eat breakfast at a diner, go for a walk, or just loiter around at the mall.

Speaking of Woodfield Mall, I recently learned that it's only the twelfth largest Mall in America. Growing up, I heard the legends about Minnesota's Mall of America, a fitting name for first place. But I always thought that Woodfield Mall was the second largest. In comparison, twelfth place barely feels like it deserves a mention.

Whatever we do, we'll be sure to squeeze a little bit more fun out of Rodney's dreary, snowy spring break.

Sip. It's good to be here today. Marissa and I finished our final workout last night. One hundred sit-ups. One hundred rows with the bar bell. And even though we both had sweat running off our faces, these exercises feel routine enough where we can talk between the sets.

"So what do we do now?" I asked. "Wait until we get fat again, then do this again?"

"GREG," said Marissa. "PENCIL US DOWN FOR... THE SPRING OF 2023."

We have a day off exercise today, then we're doing a final assessment workout on Saturday. These are fun, because you can compare your results to the first day of the program.

In other news, it's April Fools day today. Make sure you stay sharp today, because you're never too old to fall for an April Fool's prank. Around this time last year, an architect at my company published a draft proposal. It was a joke proposal to incorporate the uncertainty principal into our software with a quantum computer. I must have read the paper before I finished my coffee, and I thought it was genuine.

Luckily, I didn't leave a public comment. But I did swoop in to a private friend chat with all kinds of criticism. I took the bait, chewed it, swallowed it, and by the time I realized it was a joke it was already on the way to my intestines.

I used to consider myself a prankster, but I wasn't good at it. In honor of today's April Fool's day, let me take you through some of the botched pranks from my past.

First, we head to Peace Church in Mount Prospect Illinois. I think I was about Rodney's age. While the service proceeded in the upstairs sanctuary, all the kids attended Sunday school in the basement. We sat in fold-up metal chairs, and because the Sunday School was held in a temporary room, we had to grab our own chairs and help put them away every Sunday. Pastor Stan jammed out on his wide body acoustic guitar, and his voice bellowed. We clapped and sang along. When he finished, we'd sit back down in our metal chairs, but just before the final song ended I had a childish impulse. I decided to yank the chair in front of me, moving it out of the way so the girl in front would miss it when she sat back down.

You know how most of the time when you pull someone's chair out, they catch themselves? Not this time - it worked way too well. The girl leaned back with all her weight and hit the cold tile floor. Her butt made a thud on the ground. She sat up with her white dress balled up around her and began to cry. The teachers immediately closed in to console her. I sat behind her, horrified.

Was I caught? Not really - I pretty much got away with it. But one of the elders standing along the back wall saw me and shook his head in disapproval.

For the next two pranks, we advance ahead to sixth grade at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights. I wore a brand new digital watch I bought from Target. It had a setting where it would quietly chirp at the top of every hour.

One day in class, I noticed that another kid had the same watch. Our wrist watches chirped at the same time, a few seconds apart. After class when my teacher left the room, I convinced everyone wearing a digital watch to also enable the hourly notification. The first time it happened was glorious - a dozen cheap wrist watches around the room beeping and bleating in off-key harmony. I could sense my teacher was annoyed.

I was out sick the next day. Later that week, I learned that our teacher finally snapped, issuing detentions to every kid in class that set their wrist watch to go off. But not me - I lucked out.

The final prank of this entry happened in that same class, but it actually happened on April fool's day in 2003. My teacher kept a little round boombox by his desk. He used it to play classical music CDs during study hall. For my big April fool's prank, I would bring my own CD from home and play it on his boom box without him knowing. Out of all the CD's in my dad's giant CD collection, I went with the soundtrack to the live action Flintstones movie. The opening track, the big band version of Meet the Flintstone's, would suffice.

My teacher left the room to use the bathroom. I sprang out of my chair and dug the CD jacket out of my backpack. Luckily, I had the exact same boombox at home, so I knew exactly what buttons to press. The timing was perfect - I slammed the lid shut, hit the play button, and made my way back to my seat as the disc began to spin. My teacher entered the room while the opening drum fill blasted from the back of the room.

"TURN THAT OFF," he yelled. I lost my nerve. I obediently got up from my chair and removed the disc from the boombox, blowing my cover. Disrespectful, touching my property, disruptive.. my teacher continued to bark and yell, but I didn't listen closely. It was all the standard "getting in trouble" stuff we're all used to hearing. But his rant ended with the question, "What do you have to say for yourself."

"April Fool's." I squeaked. My teacher waved his hand, and I quickly sat back down in my chair. After another moment of unbearable silence, he cracked open the text book on the podium and commenced class.

If there was a moment I gave up the idea of being a prankster, that was it.

That's what I got today. Happy April fool's everyone.